Women's Basketball Preview
Head Coach Diana Couch returns for her second year to lead the Women's Basketball team.
Diana Couch, whose goal in her first year was to raise the bar for the women’s program did just that. With her team working to achieve the highest grade point average in over 15 years of the women’s basketball program, achieving a winning record, having one player make the All Regional Team, four players making th e All-Conference team, two Southern Conference Player of the Weeks, two FCSAA All-Academic team members and winning the IRSC inaugural Suncoast National Bank Community Service Award.
“We worked hard to create a new environment in our program last year. We wanted the student-athletes in our program to take pride not only on the court, but in the classroom and community as well”, said Head Coach Diana Couch. “We had many successes on and off the court and that really helped us to evolve into a well-rounded program. Now I am excited to see how our returners will filter our approach and philosophies into their new teammates. We want to ensure that we keep building on the foundation we worked so hard to establish and that brought our program so much success and pride.”
With only three returners from last year’s team they will have their work cut out for them as this team takes on a new look this year. Guard Jaslyne Wadley will be returning and taking a more active role in the Pioneer line-up, as well as, Sarah Kelton. Kelton was sidelined for the year after the first game of the season with a back injury and we are excited to have her return and contribute for 2013-2014 season. Miranda Wilt will be the only returning post, her defense last year gave the Pioneers an advantage in many key games. We look forward to watching her develop as we surrounded her with a more solid core group of post players to work with. But these sophomores will not be alone as Coach Couch brought in a few transfers to aid in the rebuilding of the program. The Pioneers will be looking to transfers La’Derricka Spillman a point guard and Verjell Bowleg a post both formerly of College of Central Florida and Taylor Siggers a guard and DawnSha Heath a post both formerly of Gordon College to bring some immediate chemistry and experience to the court.
Now don’t think that the sophomores will be looked to lead this team alone as the freshman class is strong enough on its own with seven fresh faces suiting up this year for the River. Local standout Meredith Flynn from St. Lucie West Centennial will join her former teammate Wilt in the paint and will be joined by Jasmine Hill of New Smyrna Beach and transfer DawnSha Heath of West Virginia. Putting the ball on the floor for the Pioneers will be Mercedes Jorge of Lake Mary High School, Jessica Colson of Lake Howell High School and Erin Graham of Deland High School. Finally at the point position this lone freshman will join two sophomores in leading the team, Madison Evans of Olympia High School.
“I believe we have the right amount of experience, the right type of student-athlete and the strong fundamental abilities from the beginning to give us a boost early on in the season. Our bench is much deeper and we have more players that can play various positions and more importantly a more solid presence in the post than last year” stated Coach Couch. “However we have to work a lot harder from the start this year. The non-conference schedule we have this season has us playing nationally ranked teams from the first tip. We wanted to challenge this team from the beginning and let them see what it was like to play against teams of this caliber and how they will respond. It’s going to help us grow quickly as a team and prepare us for conference play. We really look forward to watching this group of student-athletes become a team. They have the tools, now up to them to figure out how to use them together.”